Peer mentors were some of the first students to arrive on campus this year, and upon arrival, they went through a week and a half of morning-to-night training. Before I go any further, let me refresh everyone’s memory as to what a peer mentor is. A peer mentor is an upperclassman, who works with an RCC class to guide freshmen through orientation.
This year, each RCC had at least two peer mentors, who met with the freshmen on their first day of orientation. The peer mentors attempted to help freshmen experience events scheduled for their benefit, all part of a program called “Exploring Excellence”.
Yet here mentors and mentees quickly began to drift apart as some mentors transformed from mentor to babysitter, or even disciplinarian! Many orientation activities were scheduled later in the evening, when most of the freshman, savoring their first tastes of freedom from their parents, wished to go out. Many a freshman could be seen sneaking out the back door when his mentor wasn’t looking.
During the talent show, the comedian, and the “No Impact Man” screening, freshmen’s plans for the night were fairly obvious: “Hmm, I wonder why the freshman got so dressed up just to come to a movie screening in Dave’s Down Under?”
Well the mentors weren’t born yesterday kiddies! “These ‘Exploring Excellence’ events are made for the mentees,” said Amy Uhl. Cathleen Ward, a peer mentor for the Communism to Free Markets RCC, agreed, “They are hurting themselves, because when they don’t show up, they don’t know what’s going on campus. I missed out on a lot my freshman year because I didn’t bother to show up to half of the activities they had then.”
This rebelliousness continued during the daytime events, as mentors were forced to deal with mountains of guff and complaining from their mentees! “We didn’t like the fact that we had to keep being told what we were doing and where we had to go,” claimed an unnamed freshman.
“We complained about it a lot. We wanted to go out to the club when our mentor told us we had to go to this ridiculous show or presentation! Some of the other groups didn’t even have to go!”
This was the view of many freshmen concerning activities that every RCC did not attend. What the freshmen didn’t realize is that every set of mentors picks out various “Exploring Excellence” activities that the RCC must complete. The mentors are allowed to choose these activities, and stagger them or complete many of them at once. As a result, not every RCC would go to every available “Exploring Excellence” event.
Not every mentor/mentee set has these problems. “I got really lucky; all of my mentees get along. They all connect and there is little conflict. They are all really awesome!” exclaims Ward. “I haven’t had to deal with any severe problems with my group,” she said.
As we leave orientation behind us, and mentors and mentees slowly move on, we just have to ask ourselves what would we have done if we were in the mentors’ shoes, or what would we have done if we were in the mentee’s shoes? Think about that.